World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
5. Living as Children of Light
1Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; 2and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell. 3But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints; 4nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of thanks. 5For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6Let no man deceive you with empty words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience. 7Be not ye therefore partakers with them; 8For ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10proving what is well-pleasing unto the Lord; 11and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them; 12for the things which are done by them in secret it is a shame even to speak of. 13But all things when they are reproved are made manifest by the light: for everything that is made manifest is light. 14Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee. 15Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise; 16redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; 19speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ. 22Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body. 24But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything. 25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; 26that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 27that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: 29for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church; 30because we are members of his body. 31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 32This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the church. 33Nevertheless do ye also severally love each one his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she fear her husband.
8. For ye were once darkness. The precepts which immediately follow derive greater weight from the motives with which they are mingled. Having spoken of unbelievers, and warned the Ephesians not to become partakers of their crimes and their destruction, he argues still further, that they ought to differ widely from the life and conduct of those men. At the same time, in order to guard them against ingratitude to God, he refreshes their remembrance of their own past life. “You ought,” he says, “to be very different persons from what you formerly were; for out of darkness God hath made you light.” Darkness is the name here given to the whole nature of man before regeneration; for, where the brightness of God does not shine, there is nothing but fearful darkness. Light, again, is the name given to those who are enlightened by the Spirit of God; for immediately afterwards in the same sense, he calls them children of light, and draws the inference, that they ought to walk in light, because by the mercy of God they had been rescued from darkness. Observe here, we are said to be light in the Lord, because, while we are out of Christ, all is under the dominion of Satan, whom we know to be the Prince of darkness.
9. For the fruit of the light. 157157 The English version reads, The fruit of the Spirit; Calvin’s, The fruit of light. Without attempting, in a brief note, to balance the various readings, it may be proper to mention, that, instead of πνεύματος, (of the Spirit,) many Greek manuscripts have θωτὸς, (of the light,) and the latter reading has been adopted by Griesbach. — Ed This parenthesis is introduced, to point out the road in which the children of light ought to walk. A complete description is not given, but a few parts of a holy and pious life are introduced by way of example. To give them a general view of duty, their attention is again directed to the will of God. Whoever desires to live in a proper and safe manner, let him resolve to obey God, and to take his will as the rule. To regulate life entirely by his command is, as he says in another Epistle, a reasonable service, (Romans 12:1,) or, as another inspired man expresses it, To obey is better than sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15:22.) I wonder how the word Spirit (πνεὐματος) has crept into many Greek manuscripts, as the other reading is more consistent, — the fruit of the light Paul’s meaning indeed is not affected; for in either case it will be this, that believers must walk in the light, because they are “children of the light.” This is done, when they do not live according to their own will, but devote themselves entirely to obedience to God, — when they undertake nothing but by his command. Besides, such obedience is testified by its fruits, such as goodness, righteousness, and truth.
11. And have no fellowship. As “the children of light” dwell amidst the darkness, or, in other words, in the midst of “a perverse and crooked generation,” (Deuteronomy 32:5,) — there is good reason for warning them to keep themselves apart from wicked actions. It is not enough that we do not, of our own accord, undertake anything wicked. We must beware of joining or assisting those who do wrong. In short, we must abstain from giving any consent, or advice, or approbation, or assistance; for in all these ways we have fellowship. And lest any one should imagine that he has done his duty, merely by not conniving, he adds, but rather reprove them. 158158 “Most expositors supply αὐτοὺς, meaning the doers of the works; and they render ἐλέγχετε, reprove, viz., by wholesome correction. This, however, is so harsh, that it is better (with Theodoret, the Pesch. Syr., Wakefield, Schleusner, Photius, and Wahl) to supply αὐτὰ, that is, ἔργα τοῦ σκότους, and to interpret ἐλέγχετε ‘bring to the light, and evince their evil nature,’ namely, by shewing in contrast the opposite virtues. This sense is required by verse 13, with which the present closely connects; and so ἐλέγχω is used both in the Scriptural and Classical writers.” — Bloomfield. Such a course is opposed to all dissimulation. Where a manifest offense is committed against God, every man will be eager to vindicate himself from any share in the guilt, but very few will guard against connivance; nearly all will practice some kind of dissimulation. But rather than the truth of God shall not remain unshaken, let a hundred worlds perish.
The word ἐλέγχειν, which is translated reprove, answers to the metaphor of darkness; for it literally signifies to drag forth to the light what was formerly unknown. As ungodly men flatter themselves in their vices, (Psalm 36:2,) and wish their crimes to be concealed, or to be reckoned virtues, Paul enjoins that they shall be reproved. He calls them unfruitful; because they not only do no good, but are absolutely hurtful.
12. Which are done by them in secret. This shews the advantage of reproving the ungodly. If they do but escape the eyes of men, there is no crime, however shocking to be mentioned, which they will not perpetrate. To use a common proverb, “Night has no shame.” What is the reason of this? Sunk in the darkness of ignorance, they neither see their own baseness, nor think that it is seen by God and by angels. But let the torch of God’s word be brought forward, and their eyes are opened. Then they begin to blush and be ashamed. By their advices and reproofs the saints enlighten blind unbelievers, and drag forth from their concealment to the light of day those who were sunk in ignorance.
When unbelievers keep the doors of their houses shut, and withdraw from the view of men, it is a shame even to speak of the baseness and wickedness with which they rush into all manner of licentiousness. Would they thus lay aside all shame, and give loose reins to their passions, if darkness did not give them courage, — if they did not entertain the hope that what is hidden will pass unpunished? But do you, by reproving them, bring forward the light, that they may be ashamed of their own baseness. Such shame, arising from an acknowledgment of baseness, is the first step to repentance.
“If there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all; and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so, falling down on his face, he worships God” (1 Corinthians 14:24,25.)
It may be thought that the word is used here in an unusual acceptation. Erasmus, by substituting another word for reprove, has destroyed the whole meaning; for Paul’s object is to shew that it will not be without advantage if the works of unbelievers are reproved.
13. But when all things are reproved. As the participle, (φανερούμενον,) which is translated, that which doth make manifest, is in the middle voice, it admits either of a passive or active signification. It may be either rendered, that which is made manifest, or that which doth make manifest. If the passive signification, which is followed by the ancient translator, be preferred, the word light will denote, as formerly, that which gives light, and the meaning will be, that evil works, which had been concealed, will stand out to public view, when they have been made manifest by the word of God: If the participle be taken actively, there will still be two ways of expounding it: 1. Whatever manifests is light; 2. That which manifests anything or all things, is light; taking the singular as put for the plural number. There is no difficulty, as Erasmus dreaded, about the article; for the apostles are not in the habit of adhering very strictly to rule about placing every article, and even among elegant writers this mode of using it would be allowable. The context appears to me to shew clearly that this is Paul’s meaning. He had exhorted them to reprove the evil works of unbelievers, and thus to drag them out of darkness; and he now adds, that what he enjoins upon them is the proper business of light — to make manifest It is Light, he says, which makes all things manifest; and hence it followed that they were unworthy of the name, if they did not bring to light what was involved in darkness.
14. Wherefore he saith. Interpreters are at great pains to discover the passage of Scripture which Paul appears to quote, and which is nowhere to be found. I shall state my opinion. He first exhibits Christ as speaking by his ministers; for this is the ordinary message which is every day delivered by preachers of the gospel. What other object do they propose than to raise the dead to life?
“The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live”
Let us now attend to the context. “Unbelievers,” Paul had said, “must be reproved, that, being brought forth to the light, they may begin to acknowledge their wickedness.” He therefore represents Christ as uttering a voice which is constantly heard in the preaching of the gospel,
Arise, thou that sleepest. The allusion, I have no doubt, is to the prophecies which relate to Christ’s kingdom; such as that of Isaiah,
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah
is risen upon thee” (Isaiah 60:1.)
Let us therefore endeavor, as far as lies in our power, to rouse the sleeping and dead, that we may bring them to the light of Christ.
And Christ shall give thee light. This does not mean that, when we have risen from death to life, his light begins to shine upon us, as if our performances came before his grace. All that is intended is to show that, when Christ enlightens us, we rise from death to life, — and thus to confirm the former statement, that unbelievers must be recovered from their blindness, in order to be saved. Instead of ἐπιφαύσει, he shall give light, some copies read ἐφάψεται, he shall touch; but this reading is an evident blunder, and may be dismissed without any argument. 159159 “The various spellings of the verb, and the change of φ into ψ, have arisen from inadvertence. This variation is as old as the days of Chrysostom; for he notices it, and decides for the common reading. The verb itself occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, though it is once found in the ‘Acts of Thomas,’ section 34. That light from Christ flashes upon the awakened and resuscitated; nay, it awakens and resuscitates them. As it streams upon the dead, it startles them into life. It illuminates every topic on which a sinner needs information, with a pure, steady, and mellowed radiance.” — Eadie.